Monday, July 31, 2006

Aqua Nemesis

This, my friends, is a Dolfino Aqua-Leisure Steel-Set pool. It's 15' wide, 4' deep, and holds a volume of water approaching 4,500 gallons. That puts its theoretical weight at 45,000 pounds.

It's big, it's heavy, and it's fast becoming the Summer's offical Backyard Hangnail.

But let's start at the beginning. For the past 5 Summers the kiddos (Jedi Boy and Band Geek) have splashed around in a smaller Aqua-Leisure pool. It was (yes....was...) one of the pear-shaped soft-sided jobbies that have become de rigeur in suburbia. It was a pain, frankly. Always a hassle to setup and position just so on the level crop circle that was it's home year after year. Always the fear that it wasn't quite level and would creep amoeba-like towards low-ground in the weeks after fill up. Always never quite sure if there was too much or too little chlorine and algecide (damn those test strip things anyhow!). And always the extreme hassle of emptying it, cleaning it, folding it, and getting it back into the Rubbermaid lawn coffin that was its home.

This Summer, Aqua-Leisure #1 finally died. Oddly misshapen after its years of service, I enthusiatically dragged it to the curb one fine day for the garbage collector to transport it across the River Styx.


But the promise of a hot Summer and the doe-eyed pleadings of the kids meant that I was bound to replace the pool. Hence Aqua-Leisure #2 - bigger, badder, wider, deeper. It seemed to be a snap; unfold it on site, thread the 12 cross-poles through the pockets at the top of the liner, and connect the twelve down-poles to the cross poles. The kids and I had it assembled in 15 minutes. Then, just add water.

A quick pseudo-physics lesson: 45,000 pounds of water, while largely supported across the bottom of the pool, will still generate considerable force on the down-poles. Just for fun, add torrential rains every other day to soften up the ground. Now, let's add a randomness factor to how soft the ground will become under each down-pole. Now what do you suppose the results might be? Why, of course! The down-poles will sink anywhere from 1" to 3" into the ground!

If you've been paying attention, you'll already know that this sinkage will further result in a pool that it somewhat 'not level' - with bonus points for having 45,000 pounds of water sloshing dangerously against one side. On one hand, this is a prime candidate to win a prize on America's Funniest Home Videos. On the other hand, the threat of a pool full of kids suddenly forming a backyard tsunami is likely a bad thing - roll for damage, as they say.

So, after filling the damn pool (what will the water bill look like?) I was compelled to drain it and put blocks of wood under each down-pole - using varying thicknesses of blocks to level the pool and disperse the weight so as to discourage sinkage. Finally, add another 4,500 gallons of water and enough chlorine to sear the skin off any filthy kid that comes a-calling on a hot afternoon. Inevitably, all this work had to be done in sweltering 100C heat and humidity.

The end-result you can see in the photograph - a seemingly well-behaved pool to keep the kids cool and red-eyed for weeks to come. So far, so good. After 2 days there's no sinkage, no leaning, no dangerous sloshing. One of the down poles on the low side of the pool has developed a bit of a tilt, but nothing untoward (yet).

Lord, just get us through the next 4-6 weeks.
I promise I'll add chlorine, etc. on the recommend schedule.
I'll skim grass, bugs, and unidentifiable fuzz from the water's surface.
Just keep it all together, wouldja?
Then I get to tear the thing down for another winter.



Kid Dork said...

You poor bastard.

You poor, poor bastard.

I weep for you.

Crazylegs said...

I know, I know.... Bombs are raining down on Lebanon, people in North American cities are dying for lack of air-conditioning fercrissakes, and I'm bitching about a kiddie pool on steroids. But this on-going battle with kiddie pools is just another episode in an embarrassingly regular series called Projects That Never Quite Work Out - and I play the starring role! Gawd but I wish I could accomplish one 'project' without 'issues'. Argh!!!

Kid Dork said...

No, no, I wasn't taking the piss. I know the horror of pools. My father installed one back when we were kids--and it just became this horrible money pit, with fortunes being squandered on chemicals trying to get the right balance, me freaking out whenever a small animal drowned in the pool, and just headache after headache. Even now, we're stuck with it, since it costs almost $5,000 to have it removed. From inground pools to your portable nightmare, they are just evil. Thus my sympathy.

Crazylegs said...

I'm smiling as I read you comment because I listened to a similar story today from a co-worker. He needs a new pool liner for a 30 year-old pool he no longer uses. Damned if he goes forward, damned if he goes backward. And I won't even discuss the chipmunk death-toll in his backyard.

P.S. Caught the first bit of Geek Corner today and, ya know, I hadn't thought about Micronauts in years, but I just know I have one or two around here somewhere. A quest!

Sheena said...

I will never ever have a pool. But I like friends with pools. Go figure, eh?

Anonymous said...